Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Apple Tree & The Wild Harvest

We have an old Apple tree in our garden. He has been my friend ever since we moved here, almost a decade ago. He isn't huge, in the way of Apple trees, but he is calm and steady and peaceful, bedecked with white sweet-smelling blossom in spring and fulsome with apples in autumn. If the day's energy has been fraught, I will go and sit with him and talk the source of the fraugtness over. He listens, patient, deep and still and I invariably feel better by the time I rise and go back to the house.

L was drawn to him from the first and he still has the echoes of the boys' younger childhood days among his branches in the form of swings and rope ladders. M repaired and painted a bench that encircles him and Poppy likes to lie on it and watch me hanging out the washing, while Ted hides beneath the bench by the trunk of the tree when their games stretch just that little bit too far into Poppy Exuberance for him.

This autumn, the Apple tree is laden with fruits. Some have dropped to the earth already and become food for the wasps and the birds, and I have swept those into two piles, but many more remain on the branches. This weekend L and I have been high up on the ladder in the heart of the tree's kingdom picking apples for friends, neighbours and folk passing by.

I've given the fruit away for free. It seemed churlish to ask for money when the tree does all the hard work and we have more than we and the wild things need. It's good karma to share plenty when you have it- perhaps one day we may be in need and the Universe will remember the bags of apples left quietly by the gate.

They are proving popular- I have been up and down the ladder re-filling bags and re-stocking the box by the gate for the past three days. M expressed surprise that so many people stop to collect them. I think perhaps people are not so very disconnected from the soil after all that they aren't drawn to fresh produce when it's waiting. And there is something a little bit magical about collecting fruits and vegetables from someone's gate, with no sign of a supermarket anywhere in sight. I like to think of those people making apple cake, apple crumble, blackberry and apple pie with the apples from our tree. It makes me feel warm and smiley.

There is a reciprocity here too. I left a note asking for spare plastic bags, and they have been turning up, quietly and without fuss, handfuls left in the Apple Box by way of thanks for the fruit.

 
M and I went down the lane to Mottisfont (site of the ancient Abbey and still more ancient Springs) yesterday, dog poo bags (empty) in hand to look for the Wild Plum Tree that stands on a bend in the lane. It bears small yellow fruits which drop onto the metallic surface of the lane where they get squished by passing cars. I think people don't notice them but we do. We came home with a bag full. M got a stick and shook the branches and the plums came raining down on our heads. It was a mad laughing scrabble to collect them before they rolled down the hill round the bend and disappeared, or before a car came and flattened them. M did threaten to put me on his shoulders so I could reach up into the tree and pick the plums that way, but the height aspect (not to mention the whole wobble-and-therefore-potential-collapse aspect) scared me so I declined. I expect the entire thing was the perfect opposite to health and safety, but there you go :o)

 
The keen-eyed among you will have spotted the lone blackberry sitting atop the plums. I picked a handful from the hedge beside the plum tree and added them, with raspberries from the garden, into a custardy caramelly croissanty baked puddingy thing, which we ate last night while watching Lady Chatterley's Lover...


The sun has been shining and it has been warm. I went to see Coco (our rescue pony who lives with Ma). He's an old boy now, although quite how old we don't know, and he lives a peaceful, well-loved existence these days, having been through Tough Times in the past. He came to me several years ago when I was looking for a pony for L. Coco was all wrong for what I wanted and I originally returned home without him, but I woke at 5am the next day with his face before my eyes and I knew I needed to go back for him. His hooves were long and untrimmed, he had an infected tooth hanging out of his mouth making eating and drinking hard for him and he was full of worms. TLC works wonders: within a week he was looking like a different pony and a month later you wouldn't have recognised him. He has lived with Ma for many years now and is the Apple of her eye. Polos are his favourite thing in the whole world and woe betide you if you go to see him without any. I took Pop along with me as she was keen to see him.

 
Teddy is used to horses but Pop isn't. She behaved perfectly. No chasing, no running too close to hooved back feet, no jumping about. She loved every minute of being in the fields, but when we came home she fell silent and still and didn't resume her usual exuberance for nine hours. I suspect a reaction to a plant. I bathed her paws but it didn't seem to make a difference. The energy in the house is All Adrift when Pop is off colour. She is a such a bundle of joy and life and naughtiness that it's All Wrong when she's subdued. Anyway, some healing worked and she suddenly snapped back to normal, but a vet's visit is due this week just to get her checked out. I expect they'll offer antihistamines, but we'll see.

I'll leave you with some shots from around the garden as another week draws to a happy close...





 




Hope you've all had a peaceful weekend and have a good week coming,

CT :o)

33 comments:

  1. What a lovely appley feel good post! Your pudding looks yummy! Hope your cuddles last night did the job!

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    1. Cuddles often work with Pop when nothing else does. She is the sweetest little soul xx

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  2. This really is a delightful post and those apples look delicious. I like that pudding too - you make it sound as though you just flung the ingredients together - if so then it definitely turned out spot on.

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    1. The pus is loosely based on a Nigella one, tweaked to our preference. It takes seconds to make and is delicious. Seasonal fruit makes it different every time. I'll post the recipe next time.

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  3. The tale of Coco the pony is a very happy one, what lovely people you are, and how wonderful it must be to see her happily living her life out after the miserable times. I'm always thrilled to pick up apples from people's gates, there are three locally that usually have some to spare, they're such a treat. The plums look delicious, it always surprises me when people don't pick things like that. I did the shaking the tree thing a while back, and ended up with an earwig or two down my top. Got lots of plums in the freezer though. CJ xx

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    1. He is a dear soul that little pony. Very loving. I agree, I don't understand folk not taking advantage of free food, and it's such fun harvesting from hedgerows too! Hope you got the earwigs out... :o) XX

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  4. I used to pick crab apples at a local college and make jelly, as the fruit was just falling on the ground. The trees were cut down several years ago, and I haven't found another source of apples to make the rose-colored jelly.

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    1. Crab apple and rosehip jelly is on my list to make this autumn. I've found a tree deep in the woods :o)

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  5. Where we use to live people did the same I use to come home with bags of apples and pears for free, it is a very kind and generous thing to do.
    I really like the look of your pudding, I could just eat that now.x

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    1. It has a nice feeling, sharing things that would otherwise gently rot away :o)

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  6. How I wish I could have walked past your gate this weekend! I absolutely love fruits and berries, but I live in a flat and live a life far away from luxury so I can seldom buy as much fruits as I'd like...:( It really upsets me when people just let the harvests in their gardens go to waste when there are people like me that would LOVE some free fruits!
    So, well done for sharing your harvest for free with everyone!
    Hugs

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  7. Aww Pops, I am sending you a big hug my dear. One of the special Aunty Amy ones that is best served on the sofa! The apples from your tree look beautiful, no wonder they are so popular. I think of people decorating tables with bowls full of them holding on for as long as they can before eating them or making them into something else, just wanting to enjoy looking at them! xx

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    1. Dear Auntie Amy,
      Thank you very much for the Special Aunty Amy Hug. I am going to collect it from mum later when she goes to lie down on the sofa and watch telly. I am feeling better now thank you. I know this because I am back to licking Ted's teeth and he is back to growling at me. Love from Poppy XXXX

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  8. You are very generous. I love the idea of reprocity.

    Have you ever made scrumpy or cider CT?

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    1. M tried cider once. It was revolting. Worse than his homemade wine. He now sticks to homebrew which is much nicer :o)

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  9. Always good to be generous.The aples re looking delicious. Love the shot of the Sweet Pea. I was wondering how you got a balck background?

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    1. The camera sorted it out- it's brickwork and the light was just right I guess :o)

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  10. I'm glad you went back for Coco & letting him lead the life he has now & poor Poppy too I hope she is still feeling brighter. I've never seen apples left out locally here but did see plants left out with a sign last year. I will do the same next year, it will be good for people to get a use out of my over sowings! x

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    1. Pop seems fine now but she does do this occasionally so I'll get her double-checked just to make sure there's nothing nasty lurking. xx

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  11. I love the way you describe your apple tree and I'm sure passers-by are indeed greatly appreciating the apples. And I'm so delighted that you rescued Coco and he's now under care. Hope Pop is better and full of beans once more.

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    1. He is a special tree for sure. Pop seems fine now, thank you. Finger's crossed :o)

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  12. That's a nice looking dessert. We have a couple of people around here who leave out their surplus veg but unfortunately no apples.

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    1. It's the easiest pudding in the world to make. We haven't had any surplus veg to put out this summer but I used to leave lettuces in pots etc at the gate.

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  13. What a lovely photo of Coco. If he is a Forester, then he has a good head for one (they can be a bit plain). I am so glad you bought him even though he wasn't quite right, but he needed you.

    I usually end up giving some of our apple crop away, as we have half a dozen trees, but this year only the cooker is producing a good crop. The others are "resting" and the eating apple tree is getting birded and wasped before they fall to the ground (I need to get the ladder out and climb up and pick a few though as they are tasty little apples). One year the wasps had every single one and only the empty skin jackets were left on the branches. One visitor to our cooking apple tree this year is a Hornet. I spotted one back in the spring and I don't know where their nest is, perhaps in the empty farm buildings next door, but there is definitely a little colony around somewhere. They are certainly big b*ggers!

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    1. He's part forester, part TB and probably part Welsh too! Which explains the more refined face :o) He is a very nervy little lad (not surprisingly) but such a poppet. We all love him very much. I wish he'd been a bit bigger (stands about 13hh) then I could have ridden him myself. He's very bouncy and fleet.

      Apples on both cookers and eaters are good here this year. Fruit harvest in the wild is bountiful too- possibly different weather to you? We have Hornets here as well- one was buzzing about me on Sunday as I wobbled precariously at the top of the ladder among the higher boughs. Whoppers, as you say :o)

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  14. P.S. I hope Poppy is well again soon.

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    1. Seems back to normal, thank you. Can't think what else it could be apart from a plant reaction.

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  15. Sharing the fruit is a lovely idea. The basket of apples looks lovely. X

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    1. I love apples in baskets. I have a little red riding hood complex, evidently :o) x

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  16. I always think there is something magical about fruit trees, they somehow have a special part to play in the family life, just as you have described! We had a day out at Mottisfont last week, it was lovely! How wonderful to give Coco such a good home after the tough times he has had. Hope Poppy is fully recovered. Sarah x

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    1. I agree- Orchards are special places, they feel outside of time to me. Mottisfont is beautiful and the land around it also. Pops is much better, thank you xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x